Doha, 27 September 2020 - Al Ahli Saudi FC advanced to the 2020 AFC Champions League quarter-finals after beating Shabab Al Ahli Dubai FC 4-3 on penalties after the 120 minutes of their Round of 16 clash ended in a 1-1 draw at Al Janoub Stadium on Saturday.
The two sides had met at the same round in 2017 when Al Ahli emerged 4-2 winners on aggregate to reach the quarter-finals, before exiting at the hands of Persepolis FC.
Al Ahli came racing out of the blocks and within five minutes they thought they had already taken the lead. Marko Marin’s whipped cross from the corner was met by Omar Al Soma’s powerful header which beat goalkeeper Majed Nasser but cannoned off the crossbar. Salman Al Muwashar slotted home the rebound but was flagged offside.
Despite suffering an early blow with the injury of midfielder Majed Hassan, who was replaced by youngster Mohammed Jumaa, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai gradually grew into the match, getting their first sight of goal in the 26th minute when Azizjon Ganiev moved in space down the right and drove an effort that was parried away by goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais.
Ganiev tested the Al Ahli goalkeeper again a minute later with an effort from outside the box, but once more Al Owais was up to the task and made the save.
It was third time lucky for the Uzbek midfielder in the 29th minute as he collected Jumaa’s pass 30 yards from goal and lined a third powerful drive that was deflected off young defender Abdulbaset Al Hindi and left Al Owais helpless to rescue, nestling into the back of the net to hand Shabab Al Ahli Dubai the lead.
Coach Vladan Milojevic’s words at the break seemed to have worked magic as Al Ahli returned into the second half with renewed confidence and within eight minutes of the restart, they had won a penalty after Ganiev brought Al Muwashar down inches inside the box. Al Soma stepped up and fired from the spot into the top corner to equalise for the Saudi side.
Al Muwashar and Al Soma combined again at the hour mark, with the former dribbling past two players before feeding Al Soma at the edge of the box. The Syrian forward unleashed a powerful left-footed drive that passed inches wide off the post.
Former Al Hilal forward Carlos Eduardo put his side in trouble with a misplaced back pass, gifting Al Ahli a three-vs-two situation on the break. Al Soma supplied Al Muwashar on the left and the winger set up Marin to shoot from the edge of the area but narrowly missed the target.
Eduardo nearly made amends in the final moments of the second half, finding space inside the box and striking a nodded pass on the volley, but his attempt went agonisingly close, ending up just wide.
With cautioun taking over the proceedings from both sides, Veteran Ahmed Khalil, who had replaced Pedro Conde in the 76th minute, had Shabab Al Ahli’s only major chance of extra time as he rifled a long range free-kick in the 96th minute, but his attempt was tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Al Owais.
Goalkeeper Nasser rescued his side at the death, with Motaz Hawsawi setting up Hussain Al Moqahwi inside the box, the latter had the goal at his mercy and struck on the half-volley with his left, but the Shabab Al Ahli captain produced a fine save to send the game into penalties.
Hussein Abdulghani converted from the spot and Khalil hit the crossbar for Shabab Al Ahli for the Saudis to take the lead. Left-backs stepped up next and both Lucas Lima and Youssef Jaber found the net. Abdulrahman Ghareeb scored for Al Ahli and Ganiev kept the margin at one goal with three spot kicks taken.
Defender Hawsawi confidently extended Al Ahli’s lead and substitute Saeed Ahmed kept his composure to keep Shabab Al Ahli’s hopes alive.
With the score at 4-3, it was down to talisman Al Soma to send Al Ahli into the next round, but the Syrian international’s attempted Panenka hit the crossbar, handing the Emiratis a lifeline that Abdullah Al Naqbi failed to take, sending his shot high.
Al Ahli reach the quarter-final for the fifth time in their history and the first since 2017, while Shabab Al Ahli crashed from the Round of 16 for the second time after 2017, which also came at the hands of the same opponent.
Scoreline: Al Ahli 1 (Omar Al Somah 54’ (P)) vs Shabad Al Ahli 1 (Aziz Ganiev 28’); (4-3 on penalties)..